01 January 2013

USA / ENERGY : 06 Jan UPDATE: Shell Oil Rig Still Grounded In Alaskan Waters; Environmentalists Pounce On Accident!


      The Shell Oil arctic drilling rig Kulluk is still stranded just offshore a small island in shallow waters.
      A powerful storm with heavy seas on 31 December...broke the tow lines on a Shell Oil drilling rig...and it drifted off Kodiak Island...onto shoals of tiny Sitkalidak Island.
     The 18 crew members of the Kulluk...were safely evacuated by Coast Guard helicopters... but the 30-year-old rig was grounded in shallow waters...holding over 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 12,000 gallons of other toxic products.
       After bad weather cleared somewhat...a brief inspection was conducted...and no spillage was reported.
      Officials had worried about the effect of any spills on nearby wildlife...especially seals and salmon stocks.
       The plan is to tow the rig some 30 miles to the nearest safe harbor at Kiliuda Bay...as soon as weather allows.
      The drill ship Kulluk weighs 28,000 gross tons...cost nearly $300 million to refit specifically for Arctic drilling in Shell's costly $4.5 billion Alaskan offshore program.
      It finished drilling recently in the Beaufort Sea...and was being towed by a tug to Seattle for reconditioning...when ropes broke during heavy swells and strong winds.
     Opponents of Shell's Arctic drilling...want President Obama to stop the company's current offshore drilling efforts there...and stop issuing all permits.